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Judge upholds 'papers, please' provision of SB 1070

Permanently tosses section targeting day labor

A federal judge upheld the "papers, please" provision of Arizona's controversial immigration law on Friday, rejecting claims that the law discriminates against Hispanics. 

In a 23-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton said that activists and civil rights groups had failed to show evidence that the law would be enforced differently for Hispanics than other "similarly situated persons of another race or ethnicity." 

Aimed at illegal immigration, the law known as SB 1070 has been beset by repeated legal tests, including a challenge by the federal government that reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 and resulted in most of the law being tossed out.

In the decision, the court held that most of the law's provisions were preempted by federal law, however, the court left open the possibility that part of the law, which requires police to check the immigration status of people they have stopped, could raise constitutional concerns if the detention was solely made to verify immigration status. 

A coalition of immigration rights groups, including the ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center and others banded together to challenge the law because people from Mexico and Latin America comprise most of the foreign-born and undocumented immigrant population. 

However, Bolton rejected their argument, saying that the law was neutral in this regard, and that the challengers had not provided proof that enforcement of the law was done in a discriminatory manner.

Bolton also rejected the argument that the law was preempted by the federal government's own role in enforcing immigration laws. The ruling upheld a section of the law that requires law enforcement officers to verify the immigration status of someone who has already been detained. 

She also held that Arizona law enforcement officers could hold and transport someone to federal facilities without direction or supervision, in part because of agreements made between immigration officials and state officials. 

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However, Bolton voided a section of the law designed to make it more difficult to hire and pick up day laborers. The law made it a crime to stop and pick up a worker, and made it illegal for someone looking for work to enter a vehicle on a public roadway. 

Bolton said that the law was "overinclusive" in limiting the First Amendment rights of day laborers, and thus enjoined the the section permanently. 

Karen Tumlin, legal director at the NILC, which helped with the legal challenge, said the plaintiffs were evaluating their legal options. 

"It’s important to remember that during the course of a five-year legal battle, many aspects of the shameful law have been dismantled," Tumlin said. The "decision also contains a permanent block on Arizona’s punitive and unconstitutional attempt to suppress the free speech rights of the day laborers who live and work in Arizona." 

Bolton has dealt with challenges to SB 1070 before. 

In 2010, she issued an injunction against the law blocking enforcement of most of the law's provisions. Two years later, she rescinded that injunction after the Supreme Court's decision that tossed much of the law.

Meanwhile, the ACLU has successfully challenged the application of SB 1070 in Arizona. 

First, the ACLU challenged the implementation of SB1070 in South Tucson, reaching a settlement out of court. Then in December, the ACLU obtained a judgement against the Pinal County Sheriff's Office for a woman who held for more than five days by Border Patrol after she was detained by two deputies. 

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Dylan Smith/TucsonSentinel.com

Thousands of marchers protested Arizona's then-new immigration law in Tucson on May Day in 2010.